Going green at home is one thing; you pack up the recyclables, put a brick in your toilet, and you figure out how to get solar panels that work well and don’t break the bank.
But when you want to be green on the road, there’s a little more to consider than just waste not, want not; you’ve got to figure ways to pinch here, save there, and be smart all around.
When it comes to travelling a lot, you’ve got to make decisions that are good for the pocket, but a lot of times the best things for your wallet are also the best for the environment.
Check out these 7 tips for living cleaner, and by extension, greener as well.
Pack your own roll away water bottle.
Not only is it cheaper not to be spending $2 or $3 every time you get thirsty by packing your own bottle, but it’s also great for the environment if you reuse. What isn’t good for the environment (or you) is plastic bottles that contain BPA. The harmful chemicals are no good and it’s sometimes cumbersome to carry around a plastic bottle anyway so get a rollaway like the Vapur Eclipse. You can conveniently carry around chemical-free water and feel good about helping the environment as well.
Stay in hostels.
Any seasoned traveller knows that hostels are certainly the cheapest way to travel (unless you’re seeing the world by sleeping on night buses) but newbies might not know it’s also really environmentally friendly. By bunking in with a couple of friends and strangers you’re saving heating bills, electricity, linens and such, and more...so next time you plan on travelling, check out this great option before you head for the resorts or the hotels!
When in doubt, walk.
This is as much a notion for how to learn how to get around a city without directions as it is good for. I fully subscribe to the idea that the best way to see a city isn’t in it’s famous landmarks but getting a little lost on your wanderings of the local areas. So whether you’re not sure what you want to eat (or where you want to eat) or you’re looking for a cheap way to spend the day, tie up your laces and lose the map and museum recommendation; it’s better to hit the road and stumble upon something awesome.
One thing not to forget: HearPlanet. This app provides free walking tours that’ll get you out and about and acquainted with a city pretty quickly and it’s free—that’s got to be good for the planet, right? Customize your what you want to see based on what kind of things you like to see: architecture, rural areas, historical landmarks, and then let the app lead while you follow.
Stay away from buying electronics.
When you see cheap electronics for sale in marketplaces that should otherwise be selling local goods or handmade crafts—steer clear, they’re not as great as the low price tag suggests. First, cheap electronics can mean that they are made cheaply and if they’re made cheaply then two things happen: first, it’s going to break, and second, the workers weren’t paid enough for their work (which is one that really, really gets me). Second, cheap electronics can mean that they were stolen (an iCloud lock on your new purchase is a great indication it was swiped) and that’s just really bad juju.
Instead, just buy some local handmade art or crafts--it’s more socially responsible and it’s better all around.
While it may be easy to go in for some familiar food when you’re travelling, tired, and hungry, but resist the urge to hit up McDonald's or Starbucks and instead for the local burgers and brews instead. When big companies come into areas they artificially raise the living wage for tourists, but it’s bad for the locals because it pushes their businesses out and makes it expensive for them to live in their own cities.
So if you plan on visiting that town again, hoping it will be perfect and unchanged for years to come, let other people eat international and you stick to the local delicacies. Apps like Foodspotting helps you find great dishes and puts you in the restaurant with a great GPS system, and OpenTable gets you a reservation even when the place is filling up fast.
Try a work stay or volunteer project.
Another (pretty obvious if I do say so myself) way to give back to the planet and travel a little cleaner is to lend your skills while abroad. Whether you be a student or a little bit older, you’re never too old to lend a hand where it’s needed.
Try companies like GoEco for many different programs, ranging from medical assistance in Africa to coral conservation in the Great Barrier Reef; they don’t have age requirements and plenty of great programs to offer so the only barrier between you and rooming with a rehabilitation center full of baby monkeys is an updated shot record, a plane ticket, and the appropriate visas. Check out their website for over a hundred great programs all over the world.
Choose ground over air.
As someone who almost exclusively has to get places in her home country either via air or car (because there’s a lot of space here and days of driving is nowhere near being a fun thing to do), it’s always great for me to get to sit back and travel via train when I travel, and the best part is it’s good for the environment too. Flight travel has more carbon emissions so whenever you can, take ground transportation like trains or buses; it’s healthier for the planet and the plus side is you get to check out the landscape while you’re at it. Doesn’t get much better than that!
Have any tips for a newbie or seasoned traveller on how to make a difference while you’re travelling? Leave me a line in the comments and I’ll try it out!
Until next time... Bon Voyage!